High-Fi for Fort William - Free WiFi is rolled out across 14 Highland towns
2nd June 2018
FORT WILLIAM now has access to free WiFi in and around the centre of the town thanks to a project led by the Highland Council and funded by the Inverness and Highland City-Region Deal.
The free WiFi, called "High-Fi", is aimed at stimulating economic growth and will increase digital inclusion across the Highlands. Easy access to digital connectivity is seen as essential if the Highland region is to be innovative and keep its competitive place in the tourism market.
Allied to this, WiFi also offers the opportunity to gather data to support tourism and the creation of a wireless infrastructure in a town centre allows smart traffic management technology to be utilised.
The first phase was a Pilot in part of Inverness City Centre which was later rolled out to the wider city in early 2017 as Phase 2. The 3rd Phase will see the roll-out of the free WiFi to 14 towns in Highland.
Fort William is among the first of the 14 towns to get free wifi. Additional towns to receive High-Fi during phase 3 of the project include Alness, Aviemore (now live), Dingwall, Dornoch, Drumnadrochit, Fort Augustus, Invergordon, Nairn, Portree, Tain, Thurso, Ullapool and Wick.
The rollout for all 14 towns will be completed by the late spring of 2018, and involves local communities, groups and businesses.
Chair of the Lochaber Committee, Councillor Andrew Baxter said:
"This project is fantastic news for Fort William and I am sure it will be welcomed by everyone who lives here, as well as our many thousands of visitors.
"Digital connectivity is essential these days for daily life and the free access to WiFi will enable visitors and locals to make the most of local businesses by checking what's on, where to visit in Lochaber, opening hours, accommodation and prices, as well as finding local job opportunities and keeping in touch with family and friends.
“High-Fi will be great for posting photos of the area on social media and helping to promote the town, and all this region offers, to the wider world. I hope to see lots of #High-Fi."
Highland Council's contractor Rapier is also supplying free wifi for the Mountain Bike World Cup in Fort William this weekend.
The City-Region Deal sets out the areas where the Scottish Government will commit investment of up to £135m and the UK Government will commit investment of up to £53.1m, which, together with £127m of further investment by the Council and partners, will deliver a step change in digital connectivity, digital healthcare, skills, innovation and infrastructure.
UK Government minister Lord Duncan said:
“Digital connectivity isn't a luxury, it’s a necessity. The roll out of free Wi-Fi will help locals and businesses as well as making it easier for tourists visiting picturesque locations such as Nairn to share their experiences with people back home. I am pleased that the UK Government was able to directly support this essential project as part of the Inverness and Highland City-Region Deal funding."
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Police in Lochaber can confirm that a 27-year-old man has been arrested in connection with alleged consumer protection offences in Fort William. It follows an investigation by Police Scotland and Highland Council Trading Standards, after a report was received this week of "bogus workmen" in Fort William and alleged fraudulent activity relating to charges for work carried out on a house in the town.
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Highland Council Trading Standards have produced guidance on how to spot the signs of scams that target businesses and also remind businesses to inform their employees on what to look out for when dealing with unsolicited telephone calls, emails and texts. All businesses as well as non-profit organisations (such as charitable organisations) may spend a lot of time dealing with potential scammers.
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Work underway to determine Highland's Budget allocation. Commenting after the news received last night of Councils' individual allocations, from the Scottish Government’s draft Budget, Budget Leader Councillor Alister Mackinnon said: "Having received the details of our allocation just last night, it will take some time to work through the proposed settlement and do a detailed analysis.
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The Highland Council is to carry out a public consultation on the implementation of a transient visitor levy in the New Year. During the Council's public engagement activity during November, a strong theme was support for raising income from tourism, including a tourist levy, which could support local infrastructure, as well as the tourism sector itself.
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